implementing the energy [r]evolution
2.1 sweden’s energy policy
This section examines the energy sector in Sweden. It provides a short background to the development of the energy sector and reviews the energy mix in the country. In addition, the section pays particular attention to electricity supply. Finally, some emphasis is given to the range of government policies on energy that have been developed, which have influenced the developments in the energy sector in Sweden.
The energy production that has dominated Sweden’s power production
Steam Power The first steam machine began operation in 1728 and during the nineteenth century was the dominant source of power in Sweden. In 1804, the first steam machine was used in a Swedish factory; 1818 welcomed the first steam boat; 1849 the first steam saw and in 1856, the first hauled train. In 1884, the first electricity company opened and the power production was generated by steam power.
Hydro power Hydro turbines started to be used during the 1870s. In 1882, the first hydro power plant opened in Sweden which meant a breakthrough for the use of electricity within the Swedish industry. At the start of the twentieth century, the state started to build hydro power plants and in 1909 Trollhätte kanalbolag was transformed into The Royal Hydro Power Chair that later became Vattenfall. Today Vattenfall owns 92 hydro power plants in Sweden. In 1910, the parliament decided to expand and build out the hydro power in the Swedish rivers. In the 1970s protest movements against the hydro power exploration led to the cancellation of several projects. In 1975, the parliament adopted a goal for the hydro power’s exploitation of 65 TWh/a until the year 1985. Today hydro power delivers between 50-75 TWh/a depending on water downfall during the year
District heating In 1948, the first district heating power plant was taken into operation. During the 1960s,several more power plants were taken into operation and the production increased to 10 TWh/a. After the oil crisis and at the same time as the ‘large housing areas’ under the so-called million programme were constructed in the suburbs around the country, district heating got its real breakthrough. Today, 270 out of the country’s 290 municipalities have power plants that produce almost 50 TWh/a of district heating. District heating makes up almost half of the heating of houses. In the rest of Europe that numbers just 10 percent. Many of the power plants are combined heat and power plants and there are also district cooling power plants. Thus there’s already been a silent energy revolution in the heating sector in Sweden. The question is what will happen to the district heating if the market will be deregulated? It’s clear that the competition between district heating and other sources of renewable energy will have an impact.
Nuclear power In 1954, the first nuclear research reactor was taken into operation at the technical university in the middle of Stockholm city. The reactor was closed in 1970. In 1964, the first nuclear power plant was opened and it delivered electricity to customers until 1974 when it was decommissioned because of safety concerns. The first commercial nuclear power plant in Oskarshamn was taken into operation in 1972 and during the nineteenth seventies three more (Barsebäck, Ringhals och Forsmark) nuclear power plants were opened. The last reactor started in 1985 and when there were 12 reactors in operation. The original plan was to build 24 reactors in Sweden and the industry warned that unless that happened, there would be a national shortage of energy. In 1980, after the accident at Three Mile Island in USA, a referendum resulted in a decision that the all the nuclear power should be decommissioned when all the reactors under construction had been built, and all the reactors had reached the end of their life length (which was considered to be 25 years).. The final end date for all the reactors in Sweden was given as 2010. In 1986, the accident in Chernobyl took place and parts of Sweden suffered from the fallout of radioactive cesium (meat and berries from these areas are still contaminated). In 1999, the end date for the decommissioning of the nuclear power was taken away, but one reactor in Barsebäck was closed. In 2005, the second and last reactor in Barsebäck was closed. Today there are still 10 reactors in operation owned and operated by Vattenfall, Fortum and E.ON.
Uranium mining According to the OECD/IAEA, Sweden has 4000 tons of ensured uranium assets. During the 1950s and 1960s, the possibilities to mine uranium in Sweden was examined and between 1965 and 1969, uranium was enriched in facilities in Ranstad. In 2005, the search for uranium was reinitiated and today there’s over 200 approved permissions for investigations. The issue about whether uranium mining should be allowed in Sweden has not yet been up for political decision. The municipalities still have the right to veto the mining according to the current law.
Bioenergy In 1976, the Swedish farming university which had a strong emphasis on the cultivation of energy crops was opened. In the 1970s, the production of peat and biofuels were subsidized and got loan guarantees due to the effects of the two oil crises. Peat received financial support from the green certificates as well, even though it is not a renewable energy source but counts as fossil fuel. Today bioenergy is the biggest energy source in the Swedish energy system and by 2010, 129 TWh were produced. Bioenergy has passed oil (imported for the transport sector) and is bigger than hydro power and nuclear power together. Bioenergy makes up one third of the entire Swedish energy system: 90 percent of the bioenergy comes from the forest industry. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, a restoration of the Swedish forests was initiated and this was the first time the industry started to plant new forests. From the restoration and up until today there are statistical measures for how much biomass is available in the forests. That amount is today estimated to 3,000 cubic meters.
There is also ethanol and rape seed production in Sweden, although their contribution is small compared to the forest industry. Biogas production from farming, waste water or algae is now increasing fast and the biogas will play an important role for the renewable transition in the transport sector.
Wind power During the 1970s, the interest for wind power started to grow and investments gave Sweden a position far up front during the 1980s. But then things slowed down. Since no large scale wind farms were installed because the energy market was satisfied with the energy provided by the nuclear power plants, a brain-drain occurred and the frontier researchers went to countries like Denmark, Germany or China. In 1990, Sydkraft opened the world’s first off-shore wind farm in Sweden. But the lack of political visions continued to put a lid on the development. Sweden has enormous theoretical wind power potential of 510 TWh/a at land and 46 TWh/a at sea. It is a spacious country and the population density is low. On top of that, the existing hydro power can be used to regulate the fluctuating production. Despite the fact that Sweden is one of the countries with the absolute best preconditions for wind power, the production only made up 2.4 percent of the electricity production in 2010.
Geothermal Geothermal energy has gradually entered the Swedish energy system and is another example of the silent energy revolution that is underway. Geothermal energy provides 12 TWh/a of heating and cooling to Swedish households and premises.